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Always maintain only a joyful mind. 

Constantly apply cheerfulness, if for no other reason than because you are on this spiritual path.  Have a sense of gratitude to everything, even difficult emotions, because of their potential to wake you up.

How many times have I randomly drawn this wisdom card in the last three months?  I don’t draw cards every day.  I’ve only drawn perhaps a couple dozen times since I got these cards in early October.  And yet, this card has come up over and over and over.  33% of the time, maybe more.  There are 59 cards in this deck.  I shuffle them and draw randomly.  What are the odds?

Always maintain only a joyful mind.

I’m working on it, OK?

Since I was puzzled and hard-pressed to “answer” this card, to write about it, to respond to it – yet again – I decided to do my old “shitty first draft club” exercise.  (Giving credit to Anne Lamott for that label.)  My former writing group, my “SFD Club” – we called it by its initials since two of the women were ordained ministers – would take a thesaurus, randomly open to a page and point.  The closest noun to the pointing finger became the chosen first word.  Randomly open to another page and point.  The closest adjective to the pointer became the second word.  Then we had to combine the two concepts and write quickly without stopping for about 5-7 minutes.

So, I opened and pointed, and opened and pointed.

  • Curator (n): guardian, keeper, manager
  • Panoramic (adj): sweeping, all around, all-inclusive, complete, comprehensive, wide ranging

And I wrote.

I am the curator of my soul, my life, my well-being, my growth.  As far as the eye can see, this panoramic view is from my vantage point, my attitudes, my gratitude, my holding back, my taking risks, my misconceptions, my beliefs, my judgments, my learning.  I am the curator of this magnificent panorama that I call my story.  What colors to use, what strokes, what spaces to fill and what to leave open, what to accept, what to reject.  My curator examines the panorama and adds touches here and there, dusts this part off, throws away that which is no longer useful or meaningful or which detracts from the whole.  What is the theme of this panorama?  What is the focal point?  Can we make it more specific, more interesting, less distracting in its distractions?  Is there a leading line that takes my eye from here to here to there?  And can the curator step back and say, Ah, yes, it is good?  Do you see how it all fits together and how this element leads to that, and how this theme is repeated here and here and here?  And how this color brings out this point and these colors recede to allow the eyes to rest and the body to rejuvenate?

I am the curator of my soul, my life, my journey.  To see the sweep of the panorama, I step back, take it all in.  I am grateful for every element because my story would not be as complete, as rich, as meaningful or as interesting without each one, even the pains, the disappointments, the heartaches, the betrayals, and those I caused myself.

These are the touchstones of my life.  And here are the supporting elements that brought me to the touchstones.  The touchstones are the major pieces, the pieces of interest, the pieces that draw attention, the turning points and the Aha’s when things or ideas came together.  The supporting pieces are the scaffold, the ladder, the lessons, the practice, the challenge, the stumble, the stub of my foot against a raise in the sidewalk that hurt like hell and broke a couple toes.  The picture I took that day was of 1000 flamingoes in their natural habitat, the many hues of pink drawn out even as my toes turned a grayish purple and blue in the background.  As curator, I choose the focus, the emphasis, the theme, the coherence, just as I choose what to leave out.

Each of us has a dozen stories and a dozen perspectives to see them through.  (That’s at least 144 possibilities if you’re doing the math.)  We can tell them all, live them all OR choose a theme, a perspective, and make a stronger statement.

I am the panoramic curator of my story.  My evolving theme, repeated in so many ways, seemingly random, but more likely synchronistic, is: Always maintain only a joyful mind.  I’m working on it.  I’m practicing.  I slip often but come back to it.  Let my story be filled with joyful colors, expressions and gratitude, even in the midst of the difficult times and emotions that wake me up.